Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA, in VOA Special
English. I'm Barbara Klein.
I'm Steve Ember. The last Monday in May
is a national holiday. Memorial Day
honors those who died in military service.
But any time of year, visitors to the
nation's capital can see a number of memorials that honor members of the armed
of the tradition of an American military funeral is the playing of a bugle call
known as taps. Taps is also played at
military burial grounds during Memorial Day ceremonies.
traditional honor in many communities is a Memorial Day parade. And new for two thousand six was a ceremony
held on the grounds of the Washington Monument.
The event, called "A Time of Remembrance," was described as
the first of its kind.
invited family members who lost relatives in every conflict since the
Revolutionary War. Children of service
members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan received special gold medals.
Day honors all of those who have died in America's wars. But the holiday began as a way to remember
soldiers killed in the Civil War. On May
thirtieth, eighteen sixty-eight, flowers were placed on the graves of Union and
Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
more than two hundred sixty thousand people are buried there. Lines of simple white headstones mark the
graves. The eighty-hectare cemetery also
serves as a burial place for people of national and historical importance.
cemetery is in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from
Washington. Next to the burial ground is
the Defense Department headquarters at the Pentagon.
funeral with full military honors traditionally includes a caisson to transport
the body. A caisson is a wagon pulled by
horses. At Arlington, six black or gray
horses pull caissons made in nineteen eighteen.
A seventh horse carries the leader of the procession.
a horse without a rider also takes part in a funeral. The best known riderless horse was Black
Jack. He took part in the funerals of
presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.
The horse was named after a famous general known as "Black Jack"
year about one and one-half million people visit the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial. It is one of the most-visited
places in Washington.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial was the idea of a former soldier named Jan
Scruggs. He fought in the Vietnam
War. The war ended in nineteen
seventy-five. Many soldiers came home
only to face the anger of Americans who opposed the war.
Scruggs organized an effort to remember those who never returned.
nineteen eighty, a group of former soldiers announced a competition to design a
memorial. The winner, Maya Lin, was
twenty-one years old. She was studying
architecture at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Maya Lin designed a memorial formed by two
walls of black stone.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial opened in nineteen eighty-two.
walls are about seventy-six meters long.
They are set into the earth. They
meet to form a wide V. The names of more
than fifty-eight thousand Americans killed or declared missing-in-action are
cut into the stone.
Nearby is a statue of three soldiers. They are looking in the direction of the
names. Another statue honors the service
of women in the war.
Almost any time of day, you can
see people looking for the name of a family member or friend who died in the
war. Once they find the name, many rub a
pencil on paper over the letters to copy it.
Many people leave remembrances at the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial. One day, as crowds passed by,
two young men left notes. A woman in her
late seventies or eighties left a handful of red roses.
After the success of the Vietnam
Veterans Memorial, Congress approved a memorial to Korean War veterans. The Korean War Veterans Memorial opened in
July of nineteen ninety-five. It is near
the Vietnam memorial.
Korean War lasted from nineteen fifty to nineteen fifty-three. The memorial honors those who died. It also honors those who survived.
Korean War has been called the last foot soldier's war. The memorial includes a group of nineteen
statues of soldiers. The soldiers appear
to be walking up a hill, toward an American flag.
Frank Gaylord made the statues from steel.
Each is more than two meters tall.
People who drive along a road near the memorial sometimes think the
statues are real soldiers.
On one side of the Korean War Veterans Memorial is a
stone walkway. It lists the names of the
twenty-two countries that sent troops to Korea under United Nations
command. On the other side is a shiny
stone wall. Sandblasted into the wall are images from
photographs of more than two thousand five hundred support troops.
A Pool of Remembrance shows the numbers of American and
United Nations forces killed, wounded, captured or missing. The total is more than two million. Cut into the wall above the pool is a
message: "Freedom is Not Free."
One of the lesser known
memorials on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is often called "the
temple." The round stone structure
honors people from the District of Columbia who died in World War One.
war was fought from nineteen fourteen to nineteen eighteen. The memorial was completed in nineteen
thirty-one. It is the only District of
Columbia memorial on the National Mall.
nineteen eighty-six, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation to honor women
in the military. The Women in Military
Service for America Memorial opened in nineteen ninety-seven.
memorial is near the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery. It recognizes the service of all the women
who have taken part in the nation's wars.
About two million women have served or currently serve in the armed
Michael Manfredi and Marion Gail Weiss
designed a place of glass, water and light.
The memorial has a large wall shaped in a half-circle. In front, two hundred jets of water meet in a
the memorial, the stories of women in wartime are cut into glass panels. Computer records contain the names, pictures,
service records and personal statements of about two hundred fifty thousand
The World War Two Memorial is the newest of the major
memorials in Washington. It rises
between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument on the National
Mall. America entered the war after
Japan bombed the Navy base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December seventh, ninety
million men and women served in the American military between nineteen
forty-one and nineteen forty-five. More
than four hundred thousand died.
The World War Two Memorial stands in the open air. It is built of bronze and granite. In the center, at ground level, is a round
pool of water. Except in very cold
weather, water shoots from a circle of fountains in the middle.
the sun is just right, rainbows of color dance in the air. Fifty-six stone pillars rise around the
pool. These represent each of the
American states and territories, plus the District of Columbia, at the time of
the war. On two tall arches appear the
names of where the fighting took place.
One says Atlantic; the other says Pacific.
visitors to the memorial served during the war.
One visitor, a former Navy man, once said: "The only good thing
about my fighting in the war was that I was too young to be terrified."
federal law passed in two thousand calls on Americans to stop for one minute at
three o'clock local time on Memorial Day.
The National Moment of Remembrance honors the members of the armed
forces and others who have died in service to America.
(MUSIC: "Commando March")
program was written by Jerilyn Watson and produced by Caty Weaver. I'm Steve Ember.
I'm Barbara Klein. Read and listen to
our programs at voaspecialenglish.com.
And join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.